Italy's politics are a gift for satirical puppet show

Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:45am EST
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ROME (Reuters) - A satirical puppet show is spoiled for choice in Italy's election campaign, with Silvio Berlusconi making a comeback while on trial for a sex crime and a shaggy haired comedian whipping up voter fury with a stream of obscenities.

Directors of Gli Sgommati, an Italian version of Britain's Spitting Image which has produced a special edition for this month's elections, say they have more material than they can use.

"We certainly have a lot of material to work with, because what our politicians say is often silly and I mean now even the pope has said he will resign!," Director Pietro Jona said in an interview.

Pope Benedict's announcement that he would be the first pontiff to resign in 700 years came in the middle of the campaign for the February 24-25 election, increasing the disorientation of many voters and providing even more material for the show.

The 76-year-old Berlusconi's hair transplant, sex scandals, political gaffes and shock campaign promise to pay back taxes make him a perfect character for the rubber puppet makers.

He is currently on trial in Milan for having sex with an underage prostitute at "bunga bunga" parties at his villa, the latest of up to 30 prosecutions during his career.

"Berlusconi is an excellent actor of the theatre of the absurd. We always try to underline what is most absurd about what he is saying," Jona told Reuters.

One element in a recent episode of the Sky TV show was a live debate between the centre-right leader and his rivals, which has not been possible in real life due to disagreements over who should take part.

In it, a dark brown Berlusconi puppet - reflecting his perennial sun-tan - goes head-to-head with the grey-tinged and serious outgoing technocrat prime minister Mario Monti and the bald, dull centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani.   Continued...

A combination photo shows puppets of Italian politicians (clockwise, from L to R) Silvio Berlusconi, Pier Luigi Bersani, Beppe Grillo, Mario Monti during the filming of a television show in Rome February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/Files